Saturday, December 31, 2011

Horse-shoe shaped kitchens (link)

Check out these horseshoe kitchens: Horseshoe Kitchens : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

Sometimes you have to settle for a kitchen like this, but my kitchen is a galley kitchen with doorways at both ends. I don't like being trapped in a kitchen full of people--and pets--with no way to escape...

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sofa pillow samples (link)

Enjoy comparing the same style sofa in different colors with a variety of different-colored sofa pillows: Style a Sofa 5 Different Ways : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Frankly, I'd start fresh with a different style and different colors, but the photos may help you decide on color combinations in your home.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Free ebooks for Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

For those of you who got an ebook reader for Christmas--or couldn't wait--

here are three of my ebooks. Or you can read them on your computer. Your choice.

Pretty Pink Planet

Lori, an agent of SOESFOL (Search Out and Establish Sentient Forms of Life) visits Prism, a popular tourist destination, to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens, if she can find and talk to them.

[No coupon code necessary]

Hot Yellow Planet

In the sequel to Pretty Pink Planet, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures, meeting up with Chameleons, Ghosters, Splurts, and other aliens and humans.

Your coupon code is UX77Y (not case-sensitive).

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure

How we coped with selling a house--at last, looking for a new house, buying a new house that was a foreclosure and needed lots of work, and then remodeling it since it didn't even have a kitchen sink!

Your coupon code is YP83R (not case-sensitive)

Note: Coupon codes expire January 2, 2012

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Walk-in closet design ideas (link)

Here are some great and spacious walk-in closets: Walk-In Closets with Character : Interior Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

They can include shelves, drawers, doors, cubbies, niches, shoe racks, bins and baskets, seating--and color--and even fancy windows.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas movie homes (link)

Enjoy these homes from the movies of the season, starting out with A Christmas Story. Check out the lamp in the window... Link: 6 Holiday Movie Homes : HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kitchen storage (link)

This HGTV webpage offers you a downloadable checklist for the most efficient kitchen storage, or you could empty your cabinets and figure it out manually; there are also some downloadable kitchen layout templates, among other things. My favorite idea for kitchen storage is a walk-in pantry, which I don't have in our new house. We do have plenty of storage room; there are even empty shelves here! But I can't see all that we have because the shelves in the front pantry (food) are too crowded. Link: Size Up Your Kitchen Storage Space : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Get an e-book for Christmas!

With e-books so easily and quickly available, they make great last minute Christmas gifts, especially if you're giving anyone a gift of a Kindle, a Nook, or one of the other choices. Adding a library along with an e-reader is a good way to show people how to use their gift.

You can include a collection of free e-books, such as my science fiction adventure, Pretty Pink Planet, available at:

[You have to ask Amazon to get it free]
And including its sequel, Hot Yellow Planet, would save them the trouble of tracking it down at:

Hidebound is a SF romance (adult content) also available on Amazon Kindle: And Smashwords:

Non-fiction is available too, such as: Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure at:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decorating ideas

There are some lovely decorating ideas in the January issue of Southern Living. Pink is one of my favorite colors, though I made a mistake with the pink known to visitors and family as Bepto-Bismol pink. (I had it sponge painted white.) Heather Pink by Benjamin Moore (p 81) is much more subtle.

Another idea involving books (remember the woman who collected books with red covers?) has a blue and ivory-painted secretary full of books with blue covers (p 49). That is beautiful! The same home, however, has a room full of large patterned fabrics (duvet and pillows). Too big and busy.

Their recipe selection includes a meat loaf and mashed potatoes sandwich. Much as I love meat loaf and mashed potatoes, I don't want them combined--unless it's something like Shepherd's Pie.

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas decorating and design ideas (link)

Check out these ideas for dressing up your Christmas trees, mantels, gifts, and more:

Our home is full of Christmas bows, bells, cards, etc., and the wreath on the front door is so big, I had to go out and buy a yard sign at the hardware store to put our house numbers on.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas cards and newsletters

It's that time of the year. We can send cards and/or newsletters to our friends, family, and anyone who appears on our horizon. I don't usually send out Christmas newsletters, but this year we had a new and remodeled house, among other things, so there was plenty of news to share. I didn't have enough room to add pretty graphics--drat--but I put the header and footer in red. A cousin added a little picture of her grandson wishing us a Merry Christmas on hers. So cool!

I have some fun Christmas cards that I usually send, including sabre tooth kittens playing amongst a shepherd and his sheep and unicorns. Thank you, Tiger Moon Press. (She added the tigers for me.) These all go out by snail mail, btw, so I can add enclosures and use stickers from my sticker collection.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kitchen cabinets (links)

Check out these HGTV webpages for ideas for your kitchen cabinets--types, grades, frames, storage, buying guide, ...
Link: Cabinet Types: Which Is Best for You? : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Glass countertops (link)

Check out the beautiful glass countertops on this HGTV webpage. The product is called ThinkGlass, and it's incredibly beautiful. I confess that I love varying shades in things and swirling patterns: The Art of ThinkGlass Square Footage

Monday, December 5, 2011

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure (review)

I found a new review of my house ebook online:

An eBook on Buying, Remodeling, and Real Estate

Joy V. Smith’s recently released ebook, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure, is creating a wave of comfort in today’s stormy market of defaults and foreclosures. And, it turns out, it’s also an unexpected shot in the arm for those pursuing a real estate license or a real estate continuing education.
Remodeling is a close-up account of how one woman and her family navigated the tricky sailing of selling a house, looking for and buying a new one, and, ultimately, completely renovating it. It sets the model for anyone who’s thinking of braving the daunting task of acquiring a foreclosed house and turning it into a home—even if the house came originally without a sink. It also points the way forward for those looking to have a career in real estate.
Here’s how the buyer did the story from one buyer’s point of view:

Our home was on the market for a few years because we weren’t in a hurry. We loved our house, but wanted to downsize from five acres to less than an acre. We dropped our price a few times and finally got a good offer, though it was less than our current asking price. However, it was for cash. This, of course, makes buying simpler because you don’t have to apply for a mortgage. On the other hand, we couldn’t afford to build, which we would have preferred. We were told that because of all the cheap homes on the market we could get a good deal. Right. Well, fortunately it didn’t take us very long to close, look, and buy; of course, once we sold, we didn’t have a lot of time to look at short sales, since that can take months! We found a house we liked, but it needed lots of work. Find out how we did it and what you should look for.

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure beckons to anyone coping with a remodeling project—whether you’re an ordinary house owner in Conneticut, an aspiring agent looking to get a real estate continuing education or an out-of-town broker trying to land a New York real estate license.

Link: TheAnalyst - Best Apple App for Real Estate Practitioners

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaNoWriMo winner in 2011!

I finished my 50,000 words and my novel Monday night! 'Course it needs a lot of editing, but I didn't finish last year's novel until the beginning of this November so I started this year running late, but I caught up. Now I can catch up with other projects.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Home design ideas

The August issue of This Old House has a lot of suggestions for the home owner, including taking pictures of staked buried utilities (I'm sorry I never thought of that! I have photos of new trenches), running a kitchen cabinet flush to the counter instead of having an appliance garage on the counter, framing one of those huge bathroom mirrors with wood, glass tiles, or a piece of salvage. However, tearing up a vintage book and papering a wall with the pages is not such a good idea. You've wasted a book, and it just looks busy.
Another idea I appreciated in this issue was a cut out in the wall between the kitchen and dining room. We considered it in our remodel, but decided agains it because of the cost. (We couldn't rebuild the whole house!) Anyway, we would have lost part of a wall that we're using, and I do not like the look at all, though possibly it could be done better....

And I love that new color for hardware--caramel bronze (Amerock).

Note: To learn more about my home remodel, check out my e-book:

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure: Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure eBook: Joy Smith: Kindle Store

Or: Smashwords - Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure - A book by Joy Smith

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Decorating and entertaining ideas

The December issue of Southern Living has the most mouth-watering selection of cakes and other dishes than I've seen a while, including soups, desserts, and sweet potatoes.

Plus lots of entertaining and decorating ideas, including gift decorating. I like the idea of attaching a real cotton boll to a gift package. The home design photos and ideas are lovely! I really like that Florida beach cottage. And one woman has decorated her home with, among other things, her collection of books with red covers. There are also travel suggestions and an interesting interview with poet and author Maya Angelou.

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pretty Pink Planet (free ebook)

My free ebook, Pretty Pink Planet, is an introduction to a series. Hot Yellow Planet is the sequel. I just hope no one notices the spoiler in the Hot Yellow Planet blurb.

Pretty Pink Planet link:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homes for Gnomes

I just got the Gardener's Supply Company, and it's full of fun stuff for your landscape, including flower pot homes for gnomes and my favorite: Northern Lights solar spheres.

And though I've never played with Advent calendars, there are two that look like a lot of fun: a handcrafted tree with mulitple bird houses and a Noah's Ark (little doors in the body of the ark.).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hot Yellow Planet

Hot Yellow Planet is now available on more e-readers. In this sequel to Pretty Pink Planet, Lori and Chiing continue their adventures, meeting up with Chameleons, Ghosters, Splurts, and other aliens and humans.

Look for it on:

And Amazon:

Pretty Pink Planet , which introduces Lori and Chiing, is a free e-book:

It's available FREE on:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dining room decor ideas (link)

Check out these ideas: decorating, design, and styles, colors, showcasing your collections, table settings, and more: Dining Rooms - Room Ideas Fresh Home

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tropical Storm Sean

TS Sean is heading WNW and is expected to turn away from Florida, partially herded by our upcoming cold front.

Update (11-9): TS Sean is heading north and expected to become a category 1 hurricane.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Remodeling books

Here are a couple of remodeling books out on Amazon:

"Designing Your Dream Home: Every Question to Ask, Every Detail to Consider, and Everything to Know Before You Build or Remodel" by Susan Lang

"Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want" (released on November 15, 2011) by Duo Dickinson

And don't forget my remodeling e-book:

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure: Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure eBook: Joy Smith: Kindle Store

Or: Smashwords - Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure - A book by Joy Smith

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

WOW! Women on Writing

I hve an e-books article today on the WOW! blog. Here's the link if you want to check it out: WOW! Women On Writing Blog

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pretty Pink Planet review (from Amazon)

5.0 out of 5 stars Adventurous Human and Eerie Aliens, October 25, 2011

This review is from: Pretty Pink Planet (Kindle Edition)
"If you like your aliens exotic and your humans adventurous, then Pretty Pink Planet is for you. Lori's mission as an agent of SOESFOL (Search Out and Establish Sentient Forms of Life) almost immediately puts her face to face with an assassin. She is seconds from death--with only the bizarre ocean life of the flamingo-pink planet to help. But can they?

Smith has an uncanny talent for portraying quirky aliens, who are both strange and familiar at the same time--or more precisely, the familiar turns suddenly eerie in this story. Lori's alien companion and translator, Chiing, is both amusing and seriously mysterious. Warning: Once you've read Pretty Pink Planet, you'll want to continue the adventures with Lori and her alien companion Chiing in Hot Yellow Planet, which is also available for science fiction readers who are fascinated by intelligent alien life."

Pretty Pink Planet is available free from Smashwords (Nook, etc.):

And Amazon (if you click the I can find it cheaper elsewhere button):

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Where we love is home, ..."

"Where we love is home,

home that our feet may leave,

but not our hearts."

Oliver Wendell Holmes

I love this quote from the November issue of Country Living, which also has Thanksgiving recipes, along with lovely home and decorating ideas, an article on America's Most Popular Silver Patterns, and more. One of the recipes is for Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cheesecake with a sour cream and honey topping. It looks luscious!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hurricane Rina

Rina is heading WNW, but is expected to circle back later and strengthen to a category 3. Too early to tell if it'll reach Florida.

Update (10-25): Rina is heading west and is now a cat 2 and may become a cat 3 soon. The big U turn is a little more north now.

Update (10-27): I forgot to post an update yesterday when Rina had dropped back to a cat 1 and wasn't expected to strengthen. Now she's a tropical storm, but we are getting some clouds from the system.

Update (10-28): Rina's just a tropical system now, and will be turning back south. (Odd path!) Florida's getting some rain from Rina's remnants now, and hopefully more 'cause we really need it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Home decorating ideas

There are some lovely homes, furnishings, and decorating ideas in the December issue of Early American Life. I like the box with six drawers that sat on a counter and held flatware. I don't know what it was originally, but it's perfect for flatware and utensils, I think. There are also articles on dulcimers and old advertising signs, among other things

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Design styles (link)

Check out classic design styles here: Design Styles Defined : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

I appreciate most of these styles, including Art Deco, Arts & Crafts, and Asian, but my personal style is eclectic--and practical ('cause of the dogs).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Universal design (link)

This HGTV webpage lists and defines the principles of universal design: Universal Design Principles : Interior Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

Any time you remodel would be a good time to think about these principles to make the house user friendly now and in the future.

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Planning a kitchen remodel? (Link)

If you're planning to remodel your kitchen, here are some suggestions about how to do it: Where to Splurge, Where to Save : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

You have to think about your needs, resale value, etc. If I had to do my kitchen remodeling project over, I'd get quartz instead of granite for the countertops. I would still skip the stainless steel, which is a nuisance to clean, but get a bigger refrigerator. I've got plenty of storage, and I like my maple cabinets. I'd skip the disposal, since it has to be maintained. 'Course we've got a small compost bin (tumbler style) tucked away out back.

For more on my kitchen remodel, you can check out my e-book, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure: Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure eBook: Joy Smith: Kindle Store

Or: Smashwords - Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure - A book by Joy Smith

Monday, October 17, 2011

Solar lights

I love solar lights, and I buy them from catalogs and the hardware store. My latest ones are mosaic spheres, which didn't glow at first so I took them back (one at a time) after a few days in the sun, and finally a sales clerk figured out that there were switches underneath the solar panels, and when she put the sphere in a dark place (not easy at the cash register), it glowed so I took it home, along with a golden mosaic sphere. (There weren't any switches on my other ones, and I was careful with them--I didn't hold them upside down because the spheres are delicate, and the posts tend to separate.)

Anyway, I went out last night and saw five glowing spheres! The two new mosaic ones, two old ones that don't glow as much at night any more, and the big gazing ball I got for my birthday a year or two ago--hard to put together, but worth it. And I saw my Saturn with rings glowing a bit. It doesn't have a solar panel, but sort of reflects light or something. I enjoy looking at them all when I take the dogs out.

I have three solar spheres out front too, but they don't glow like they used to; they may have been in the sun more at our old house. And I know someone who has his solar sphere in his house, where it's exposed to the sun. I never would have thought of that. They are beautiful and fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pretty Pink Planet review

Pretty Pink Planet review from Amazon:

"The Pretty Pink Planet is quite the tourist destination, but have the developers violated intergalactic law? Is our protagonist in danger? (Of course she is.)"

Pretty Pink Planet links:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kitchen design ideas

Check out these HGTV webpages for ideas on kitchen work zones, cabinets, storage, etc.: Kitchen Space Planning : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hot Yellow Planet

Hot Yellow Planet, the sequel to Pretty Pink Planet, is now available on Amazon's Kindle: Hot Yellow Planet eBook: Joy V. Smith: Kindle Store

Review: "Hot Yellow Planet is the cute sequel to Pretty Pink Planet and continues the saga of a quite diverse group of characters--human, humanoid, and "other." Lots of cool ideas here."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sears blog with suggestions for your home

Here's a blog from the Sears website with interesting tips and ideas. Remember: you don't have to repace doors, etc. just because a company wants to sell you something.

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hot Yellow Planet

Hot Yellow Planet is the sequel to Pretty Pink Planet. Lori and Chiing continue their adventures, meeting up with Chameleons, Ghosters, Splurts, and other aliens and humans.

Note: It was published in Dragon Dreaming Spring/Summer 1997 and Startling Science Stories May 1998.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lots of ideas for your garden in Country Gardens

I found two wonderful new plants in the Fall Issue of Country Gardens. I would love to get the Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea and the Pink Lemonade blueberry, which is truly pink!

There are also interesting articles on giant pumpkins, dahlias, self-seeding flowers, radishes, and vintage watering cans, plus lots of beautiful garden photos.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pretty Pink Planet is now available free!

Pretty Pink Planet is available on Smashwords now--for free: Link:

If you need to access it on Kindle, look for the link that asks if you’ve seen it cheaper elsewhere.
And stay tuned for the sequel: Hot Yellow Planet

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pretty PinK Planet

My story, Pretty Pink Planet, is available on Amazon Kindle now for 99 cents.

Description: Lori, an agent of SOESFOL (Search Out and Establish Sentient Forms of Life) visits Prism, a popular tourist destination, to track down planet pirates and rescue aliens, if she can find and talk to them. It's a good thing she has help...

I hope you'll enjoy this fun story. Check it out at: Pretty Pink Planet eBook: Joy V. Smith: Kindle Store

Saturday, October 1, 2011

To Ignite a Fire on Enceladus (e-book) review

My review of To Ignite a Fire on Enceladus is on: The New Book Review

This updating of Jack London's To Build a Fire is combined with the London story. I love the updated story--and dog! Great opportunity to enjoy and compare them.

Amazon link:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hurricane Ophelia

TS Ophelia has come back and is already up to a category 3 hurricane and is expected to still stay out to sea as it moves NNW.

Update (10-3): Ophelia is a cat 1 now and is moving past Newfoundland.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More decorating suggestions (link)

Check out this slide show of simple ideas to perk up your home:
Embrace Every Space Home Made Simple

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More home decorating ideas

In the June 2011 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, a home owner used grasscloth attached with adhesive transfer tape to the interior back of a bookcase. That gives color and texture and perks up the bookshelves. We only painted--a sort of pale terra cotta--the back of our living room built-in bookshelves. They had been all white. They look so much better now!

I saw an Olympic pink paint color in the issue that I really like: Bunny's Nose.

For a fantastic centerpiece or accent, plant succulents in a really big shell.

Another good idea from that issue is adding two levels of Shaker-type pegboards. Our house is full of pegboards; they're useful and can add a colorful accent, but I never thought of putting them at a lower level for children.

Oh, in a recent mail advertisement for Martha Stewart Living, they used a flower stamp (or you could use a stencil) and ran it as a garland over the headboard, the wall, and a lampshade on the bedside table. That is a fun idea!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Corraling kitchen clutter (link)

This Kohler webpage gives you hints on clearing out kitchen clutter and working more efficiently in your kitchen, along with kitchen sink ideas and accesories. Did you know that there's a sink strainer with a remote control?! I do like the idea of a separate sink for letting your pans soak, but I don't know if the big frying pan will fit...

Link: KOHLER: Planning Tips: Conquer Kitchen Clutter: Kitchen: Articles

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tropical Storm Phillipe

TS Phillipe is moving WNW and is east of TS Ophelia, which is still chugging away in the ocean. Phillipe is espected to become a minimal hurricane and stay away from land also.

Update (9-28): TS Phillipe is moving WNW.

Update (10-3): TS Phillipe is still chugging away in the ocean.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall colors and decorating and fun

There's an interesting article with lots of photos focusing on a lovely home using the dog trot style in the October issue of Southern Living. I love that style; it's the one I used when building a house a few years back. The central hallway and lots of wimdows are perfect for the southern climate.

The issue also has colorful ideas for fall decorating. And don't miss the picture of a German chocolate cake. That is one of the most delicious-looking cakes I've ever seen. The butternut squash bread looks good, and there are a variety of soups. There are travel articles too, focusing on different ways to enjoy fall color, along with gardening and other articles.

Note: You can see the house plan for my dog trot house in my book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook. This old style house plan can keep your home cooler when it's hot, and we certainly appreciated it when we lost power for almost a week after Hurricane Jean in 2004. While our neighbors were living and sleeping on their screened porches, we could sleep in our house just by leaving the windows open. The new edition has color photos; the ISBN number on that edition is 978-1-60749-562-8:. You'll have to track it down at: Online Bookstore

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kitchen design ideas, trends, and colors (link)

Here is a variety of kitchen design ideas: Colorful Kitchen Designs : Rooms : Home & Garden Television

Check out the tips for tiny kitchens and the romantic design trend. As for the blue kitchen, I like the tile backsplash, but not the blue wall color. The blue lights are a lovely touch. I hope they're practical.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kitchen islands (link)

Check out the kitchen island ideas on this HGTV webpage: Kitchen Islands : Kitchen Remodeling : HGTV Remodels AND find out if your kitchen has enough space for an island by looking at the kitchen island checklist.

Tropical Storm Ophelia

TS Ophelia is heading west, but is expected to weaken. Too early to tell where it's headed, but the spaghetti models last night seemed fairly well split between west and east of Florida.

Update (9-22): It looks as if Ophelia is going to turn north like previous storms.

Note: A weatherman said recently that out of 15 named storms, we've only had 3 hurricanes this year.

Update (9-28): It looks like Ophelia still may become a hurricane (cat 1).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My house e-book is a September spotlighted book!

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure is one of the September spotlighted books on the Steel Diamonds Publishing homepage:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hidebound review

Here's my first review of Hidebound from Amazon:

Fissa's desire for independence, leaving the safety of her home planet to travel space on her cousin's ship, the St. Catherine, may be her first and final adventure. The ship is attacked, and she crash-lands in a shuttle on a planet covered with carnivorous vegetation. Now her life is in the hands of Ferenc, an alien humanoid with strange physical powers. Will he abandon her, force himself upon her, or continue to save her as they journey over deadly terrain? Under the constant threat of death and with a growing attraction for the enigmatic humanoid, Fissa must grow up fast and make some life-altering choices. Joy V. Smith has deftly combined science fiction adventure with romance, realistically exploring an emotional and physical relationship between human and humanoid.

[Note: Adult content]

It's also available in other formats at:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hurricane Maria

TS Maria is finally a hurricane and is heading NE. Here's the NOAA map if you want to look at its projected path: Hurricane MARIA

Update (9-16): The remnants of Maria have passed Newfoundland and are heading for Greenland, Iceland, and England. This is the first time in weeks that there is no named storm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Design Star finale

Tonight the two finalists on Design Star, Meg and Karl, were assigned the challenge of decorating the living rooms in two different brownstones in Harlem in NYC. Unlike most of these shows, I'll spare you the artificial suspense. Meg won. The colors and furnishings in her living room were lovely, and she replaced the curtains on a wall that pretended they were hiding a window. Instead she hung a mirror. When she first said she was going to do that, I thought, Oh, no. Not mirrors! But she found a mirror with lines that resembled a window. Perfect! Karl put architectural details in his room and great storage, but he decorated an old armoire with graffiti. Well, it looked better than I thought it would. Pretty nice, actually, but I wouldn't want it in my living room.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tropical Storm Nate

TS Nate is expected to become a hurricane. It's heading west, but its projected track has dropped south so that it's heading toward Mexico.

Update: Nate is expected to become a category 1 before it makes landfall in Mexico.

Update (9-10): Nate is still expected to become a cat 1 just before landfall. It may curve up into Texas.

Update(9-11): Nate made landfall and went straight into Mexico. Now it's gone.

TS Katia may hit Britain in a few days as an extra-tropical storm.

TS Maria is heading west; it'll probably turn east later.

Update (9-11): TS Maria is still expected to become a cat 1 hurricane and curve out to sea.

Update (9-14): TS Maria is finally heading north and is still expected to become a hurricane.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Toad houses

I've been collecting toad houses for a long time. I find them in stores, nurseries, on vacation, and in catalogs. They add interest to your flower beds and give toads a place to den up in. Over the years I've seen one toad house with a floor in a store, and I recently saw one with a floor in The Gardener's Supply Company catalog. If you're serious about giving toads habitat, don't give them a house with a floor! They need to dig into the dirt to protect themselves from cold, heat, and predators. I've used broken pots for toad houses too. (See above on the right.) The one on the left is one I bought, and there are even cuter houses available. Also different colors and shapes, and I had one that was a combination bird bath (on top) and toad house (first floor).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tropical Storm Maria

Maria is heading west, but it's too early to tell if it's heading towards Florida.

Katia is now a cat 1 and should be turning away from the east coast soon.

Nate could be forming in the Gulf. Check out the spaghetti models! Looks like the kittens have been in the yarn again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Three ways to save on lighting

Most of us know about #1: Use LEDs and CFLs. #2 is Use dimmers. And #3 is Use Occupancy sensors. For more details, go to: 3 Energy Savers: Lighting

I never used dimmers until we moved to this house, and sometimes they're a nuisance because they often dim by themselves--especially the dining room. We need good lighting in the dining room because we do different chores on the dining room table, and some day I will replace that light. As for occupancy sensors, someone told me that she occasionally worked in an office with sensors, and every so often, the whole room would go dark, and she'd have to get up and move around. Now that's a nuisance when you're busy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Design Star: Tiny House Challenge

Tonight's Design Star challenge was to create a home in one of the new tiny houses, which is basically a big box. Karl's house was the best in design and decorating, and he included a loft bed. Meg made a mistake with the floating shelves and accessories, though she used the bathroom and closet walls at the front door to create a foyer. However, floating shelves just aren't practical. Storage is so important. Mark made a mistake wasting wall space on an artistic design, which just didn't look that good. It might have worked in a man's bedroom in a big house.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane Katia and TS Lee

Katia is a category 1 and is heading NW. It's expected to make it to a 3 and may skirt the east coast.

Update: (9-5): Katia is now a cat 3 and still heading NW, but should be turning out to sea.

Update: Now Katia is a category 4 and still heading NW, but it should make a sharp turn away from land.

Update (9-6): Katia is now a 2 and should be making its turn one of these days.

TS Lee is heading north and then should turn east; it's expected to give Florida rain. North Florida is already getting it--and I hear from a cousin there that they need it--while we got a little shower further south.

Update (9-5): The remnants of Lee are heading east. We haven't gotten much rain; the west coast of Florida is getting more. It's supposed to be windier here the next couple days.

Update: Wind and rain from Lee's remnants are moving closer to Florida out of the Gulf now. The surf and riptides are rough. Don't ignore those red flags on the beach!

Update(9-6): It's actually a combination of Lee's remnants and a cold front that has given us some rain. I didn't notice any wind.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee

TS Lee is heading north towards Louisiana and then should turn east towards Alabama and Georgia--probably.

Meanwhile Katia is still a category 1 hurricane and probably won't make it to a cat 3 after all, and it's heading west, but it's too early to tell where it'll make landfall.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Design Star

I enjoy watching Design Star on HGTV because it's interesting seeing how people meet their challenges, and I'm always keeping an eye out for ideas I can use. Recently one designer was asked by a kid to design a room with bunkbeds and storage lockers. Fantastic idea, I thought, 'cause I'd love that, but the designer ignored the request. She gave the boy a high bed with a clever hidey space under it and instead of lockers, he got two small boxes attached to the wall. No storage space!

I have friends who have a really cool bunk bed set, btw. The bottom bed is a double; there's a small stairway instead of a ladder at one end and plenty of storage space at the other end of the bed. The set has drawers and doors. If the designer had found something similar (plus the lockers), she would have aced that challenge.

I think she thought that the kid really wanted a cool hideaway; however, kids also have friends over to spend the night, and they can make their own hideaways with blankets...

Check out the Design Star webpage: HGTV Design Star : Home & Garden Television

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tropical Storm Katia

TS Katia is heading WNW and expected to become a category 1 hurricane Wednesday and a category 3 by Sunday.

Update (8-31): Still not a hurricane, but still expected t0 become a category 3. The spaghetti models mostly agree and have it turning north.

Note: I read in today's paper that on August 31, 1967, a Hurricane Katrina produced a storm surge in Mexico, leaving 1200 people homeless; however, the name was not retired (a controversial decision). If it had been retired, Hurricane Katia would have devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Update (9-1): Katia is still a tropical storm, though apparently she was a hurricane briefly while I wasn't looking.

Another note (from a TV weatherman): Lee, who may be forming in the Gulf, was the name of the hurricane after Katrina.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tropical Storm Jose

TS Jose is heading north and away from land; and Irene is heading NNE.

Update: Jose brushed Bermuda and moved away into the ocean.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hidebound is now available on Kindle

My SF adventure/romance, Hidebound, is now available on Kindle: Hidebound eBook: Joy V. Smith: Kindle Store

Description: Not long after Anfissa meets Ferenc, a strange humanoid bodyguard, on the space cruiser, St. Catherine, she is forced to flee with him, his dangerous boss, and another bodyguard in a lifeboat during an attack on the cruiser, to a planet where even the grass is deadly. Travelling across the planet to find a small relay station, Fissa nearly succumbs to dehydration and insect bites until Ferenc offers her help unique to his home planet. Note: Adult content.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Irene was upgraded to a hurricane this morning--a category 1. It's still moving WNW, but should stay east of the peninsula, and it's expected to strengthen to a catefory 3.

Update (8-23): Irene is now a category 2 hurricane and the models have shifted even further east. It looks as if it's going to miss the peninsula.

Update: Irene is now a cat 1 and still heading WNW, though the models show it going up the east coast.

Update (8-24): Irene is now a cat 3 (yes, I'm running late) and is expected to become a cat 4. It's moving NW and skirting the east coast; that can change in either direction.

Update (8-25): Irene is still a category 3, and we're getting some rain and a little wind from its rotating rain bands as it heads by and away from us and up the east coast. South Florida got a lot more rain.

Update (8-26): Irene is now a cat 2 and should be a cat 1 when it makes landfall.
Update (8-27): Irene is a category 1 and still moving more or less north (NNE); I think it's one of the hurricanes that was pretty predictable, but I see that a lot of people are stuck in airports for a while. Here on the news our local power company trucks are beginning to head north to help restore power to the northeast.

Update: Irene moved on into Canada eventually, and after the cleanup in the East, a lot of bridges will need to be rebuilt.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene

It's amazing how all--or most--of the spaghetti models are focused on south Florida--and then Tampa Bay, I heard a weatherman say yesterday.

For NOAA updates:

(Thanks for the heads up, Lloyd.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Having fun in fall

The September issue of Southern Living includes 101 design ideas--inside and outside. I love the gold sandstone, and the cased opening between the foyer and living room has stone detailing. Impressive. The scraped and painted wainscot--not so much. (It looks like it hasn't recovered from the last hurricane.) There are a number of articles and ideas focusing on the football season, along with gardening and courtyard ideas, Southern cooking, and apple desserts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tropical Storm Harvey

TS Harvey is headed west--away from the US. It's way south.

Link: Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook

Update (8-20): Harvey is making landfall at Belize.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tropical Storms Franklin and Gert

Well, I blinked and missed Franklin, but Gert is heading NNW towards Bermuda.

Update (8-15): TS Gert is heading NNE and should miss Bermuda and then dissipate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Decorating ideas

There's an interesting bookcase in the September issue of Country Living. They took a wooden cable spool (they are so great for recycling!) and added 12 dowels--spaced around the spool. You shelve the books in between the dowels. You can paint the whole thing and add castors if you want.

There are some kitchen and home makeovers in this issue too; and the Real Estate Sampler focuses on historic fixer-uppers.

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The New Book Review (link)

My house remodeling ebook (Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure) review is up on this reviewer's blog: The New Book Review

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chrome Yellow (link)

Chrome yellow is HGTV's color of the month. It's bright, but not as bad as I thought it'd be. Check it out: HGTV’s Color of the Month Gets a Smiley Face: August 2011 « Design Happens

Monday, August 8, 2011

Design Star

I enjoy watching Design Star, and tonight they worked on kitchens, which I'm especially interested in since our recent remodel. The teams worked on four different kitchen layouts: U-shaped, L-shaped, peninsula, and galley. Actually the galley kitchen was wide for a galley since they put a big table in the middle of it. You don't see that every day! Then the teams picked out styles, including contemporary, industrial, etc, as demonstrated by teapots. You might want to catch this episode in the reruns.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rescuing the Future: A Naomi Kinder Novel

I write book reviews--mostly of books I like, if I choose wisely--and my review of Rescuing the Future can be seen in this collection of book reviews:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure

My house e-book, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure, is now available on Amazon kindle:

Eclectic design--or mix and match

Mix and match is in. You can combine antique and modern or tools/army/masculine with nature/feminine/floral touches. 'Course I've always done that--making use of what I had on hand or found, but it's sort of nice to be cool, though how long will this trend last? Still, animal prints are still hanging on. Check out some ideas at: Eclectic Decor is In: Learn About The Mix + Match Design Trend « Design Happens

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Global design suggestions (link)

Want to add some global design flair to your home? Here are some ideas incorporating Moroccan touches in a design mixture. There are some lovely and luxurious looking rooms. Check them out at this HGTV blog:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Laminate flooring choices (link)

Here's a lovely laminate flooring selection:

I really like the wide planks of Armstrong's American Duet - Hartford Maple Antique, and Shaw Floors' Caribbean Vue: Riverbed Teak is lovely. Check out the choices.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hurricane names for 2011


"Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The original name lists featured only women's names. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2009 list will be used again in 2015. Here is more information about the history of naming hurricanes. "

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Home entertaining and helping your neighbor ideas

There's a article on fancy dining alfresco in the August issue of Southern Living. (This hostess doesn't use paper plates!) Another family created a cozy open-air addition to their home.

And check out a flashy flower--colorful dahlias. My favorite recipe in this issue is the lemon meringue ice-cream pie, but the tomato pie is intriguing. However, the highlight of this issue are the articles on the tornado damage, recovery and sharing in the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Water saving products (link)

There are some stylish faucets, showerheads, and toilets to choose from here:

Some of them even tempted me, who will use a an appliance or product until it needs to be replaced. (I shake my head sorrowfully when watching a home show where people complain and whine about the stove and fridge being outdated. I have better things to do with my money!) However, I especially liked the faucet that lets you choose from two different amounts of water. I'm still annoyed that I can't do that with my GE infusor washing machine. And check out the stealth toilet!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure

My ebook, Remodeling: Buying and Updating a Foreclosure, is now available. It's about how one woman and her family coped with selling a house--at last, looking for a new house, buying a new house that was a foreclosure and needed lots of work, and then remodeling it since it didn't even have a kitchen sink! This book would be helpful to anyone coping with a remodeling project:

Btw, the cover was designed by SF author and poet, Vincent Miskell, whose SF ebook, Godspeed Inc, is available as a free download:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flooring choices (link)

Which types of flooring work best for the basement, kitchen, dining room, etc.? Well, it depends on moisture issues in the basement, of course. Cork is recommended for the kitchen, and you might want to extend the kitchen flooring into the dining room. Check out these flooring suggestions:

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer

Magistria: The Realm of the Sorcerer is a shared world anthology of mages and magic; it includes my story, Seedlings, in which plant mages fight alongside their sentient plant companions. You can buy it on amazon:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Aliens, Animals, and Adventure

I have a collection of some of my published stories in Aliens, Animals and Adventure. You can order it (trade paperback) at the Anthology Builder library:

It includes three pairs of stories and sequels: The Doorway and Guard Dog, Pretty Pink Planet and Hot Yellow Planet, and Lost in the Long Dark and Taking Tawny Home. There's also a sequel to Sugar Time, my time travel audiobook: Flashback. (Find out how the Chessies landed on Earth.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sugar Time

Sugar Time is my time travel audiobook with three time travel adventures, check it out at

Description: Three complete stories: “Sugar Time,” “Flight Test,” and “Return to Neander.” Maxwell Sweet, along with two professors, have been conducting secret experiments in an old Victorian mansion outside Galveston, Texas. However, the two professors have vanished and Maxwell Sweet has fallen ill. Now, it’s up to Sweet’s tough-as-nails niece to find out what happened to the project — a working time machine. Sugar Time is an audio time travel adventure featuring a full cast, music and sound effects.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?

For young children, there’s my picture book, Why Won’t Anyone Play with Me? Why doesn’t anyone want to play with Kallie Kitten? Why do they jump into the pond or hide? Will anyone ever talk to her? Will this frisky little kitten learn to play their games?

Illustrator Andrea Gradidge was originally from the UK and now resides in British Columbia, Canada. She has illustrated various chapbooks and e-zines and also my story, “Sammy’s Beautiful Tail.”

Children should enjoy the animals in this colorful picture book and the critters they, or their parents, can cut out at the end. It is available online at Barnes & Noble:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Writing news update

I'm working on getting my selling/buying/moving/remodelling diary published as an ebook. This would be my first ebook, though I was included in the writing tips ebook, I Wish someone Had Told Me That! a while back. My print and audio books are still available, including:

Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook is my non-fiction primer for home building. The new editon has color photos; the ISBN on that edition is: 978-1-60749-562-8 It covers the building process and includes diary excerpts, photos, and advice from planning to punch list and beyond. You can order it from the publisher:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Compost bins

We've used a compost bin for years, and it was frustrating having to dump our kitchen scraps in the garbage or use the disposal at our new house. Our bin at the old house was big and full of kitchen waste, plants and grass, and occasionally old hay from the neighbor's stable. Here we've been studying compost bins in catalogs and finally found one that's not too big and has two compartments and rotates. We still haven't filled the first compartment, which is good. The hard part was putting it together after we got it and all its pieces. 56 nuts and bolts! And when we were almost done, the door section didn't fit. Oh, oh. Ah, here's where we went wrong. (We usually didn't understand the diagrams until after we'd put things together. I'm still not sure what the diagrams for the frame meant, but I liked the smiley and frowny faces.) So, we had to dismantle all the sections (sides)--removing every nut and bolt and then replacing them when the ends of the bin were aligned. We found this useful little comost bin in the Plow and Hearth catalog, btw.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Colorful paint color choices

I love all the colors--and names of paints--we have to choose from today. Blues from Behr include Tropical Surf, High Tide, Soar, Poolside, and Meander Blue; I found this selection of blue shades in the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens. And a variety of colonial colors in the August issue of Early American Life, including Shaker Red (California Paints), Cheesecake (Pittsburgh Paints), Livingston Gold (Benjamin Moore), and Gloucester Sage (Benjamin Moore). Plus some other beautiful colors from nature: Allium "Drum Stick" (a sort of dark purple) and a single pink hollyhock. (I love that color!)

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Open houses

I love visiting open houses. I look for interesting ideas and, of course, compare them to our house. Today there was an open house in our neighborhood at a home we've often passed and wondered about so I checked it out. It was fun. Look what they did to this house! Those trees need to come down. Hmm. it's lost most of its stucco--and they painted over a lot of stuff, but they did a lot of upcgrading too. And I admired their level back yard. I think I've mentioned that our back yard is a straight slope. (If we got snow here, we could probably ski.) The house is a lot smaller than ours, but it does have a very nice bathroom. Our two bathrooms are both small. And this house is famous for its funny side porch; the screened sides slope outward. It could be a modern style from the 50s. The house was built in 1953, and a number of homes in this area have the flat roofs and straight angles that date from then.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Watering your lawns and gardens (link)

Here are the basic ways to water, and I've used them all except for drip irrigation. For the first time--here at our new house--we have a sprinkler system (6 zones), and we've spent a lot of time and money fixing this old, complicated system. I'm not sure if it was all installed at once because of the differences in the sprinkler heads, including pop-ups. We've had some capped because they are all over, and we've had them adjusted so they don't water the sidewalk, the road, and passersby. However, the latest guys extended the range of some sprinkler heads again so they cover more of the lawn--and the sidewalk. Even with the sprinkler system, we still use hoses (going to buy another one to keep attached to one of the many faucets), sprinkling cans, a soaker hose, and an oscillator. (I didn't know we were supposed to bury soaker hoses!) Check out the pros and cons of each way: 6 Ways to Water -

Friday, June 10, 2011

Innovative bookcases (link)

Here is an imaginative collection of bookcases to dress up your home, though while the upsidedown bookcase is eye-catching, it's not practical for books you use a lot. There is an amazing collection of designs, including expanding bookcases and an infinity-sign-shaped bookcase, which reminds me of an Escher drawing. Link: 18 Seriously Cool Bookshelves & Bookcases

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Buying our house: Report #18

The last remodeling project was completed May 27 when our office window sash was replaced. The installer had us work with it to make sure we were happy with how it works. Yes! It moves!!

We got two pallets of sod last Friday, June 3, (St. Augustine, though I'd have preferred Bahia, but apparently Bahia doesn't do as well in our shaded areas) and we've been watering it ever since! We've had more work done on our sprinkler system because we still have damaged sprinklers, and we found water gushing from a broken pipe. That happened behind a big oak tree, which is why we didn't notice it sooner. The water runs down along one of the newly-sodded areas, so it's not completely wasted, but we are using a lot of water! City water. It's not like when we had a well.

So, we have more mulch coming and more work to be done on the sprinkler system, but I think we're almost finished--except for buying more plants, ground cover (perennial peanuts are good for that, we've discovered), and hardscape. However, the remodeling is done, and we're enjoying our new home so I decided it was time to have our Open House. Sunday, June 5, looked to be the best time for that so I sent out the invitations and bought sandwiches, snacks, desserts, and soda and sherbet for my mother's famous sherbet punch. (Just mix 7-Up, ginger ale, and/or lemon/slime soda with lime sherbet--or make your own concoction.) Everyone loves it. We were kept busy restocking the punch bowl, answering the door, introducing people, talking to everyone, etc. Now we have lots of sandwiches and snacks left over 'cause I never want to run out. But we won't have to cook for days! Signing off and loving our new home!!!

Oh, I do want to thank the people who helped us sell our old home, buy our new home, pack, move, and help us with the remodelling projects and the interior design projects: our realtors: Shawn & Dee McDonough; Bruce & Judy C; Mike Hickman, our remodeling contractor & his crews; Tammy J, the coordinator; Bob & Cheryl K (Bob worked on our wiring puzzles and sprinkler system, among other things); Mina S; Vicki B; Bobbie A; Cindy D; Gerry H; Peggy W; Larry S; and Hubert and Kenny. We appreciate you all!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Remodeling project suggestions (link)

Curb appeal and upgrading your interior basics are both important; this includes replacing old plumbing pipes (unseen) and removing ugly paneling and popcorn ceilings (definitely seen!). Forget adding dimmers. (I'm getting rid of ours asap.) Link: 10 Investments to Boost Your Home's Value : Home Improvement : DIY Network

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Living room design ideas (link)

Ideas include using color combinations spaced randomly on bookshelves or in throw pillows with different designs. And some of the ideas just may make you appreciate your own living room design and layout... Link: 10 Can't-Miss Living Room Updates : Rooms : Home & Garden Television

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shelving and storage ideas (link)

You can use bookcases as divders and for storage, and you can turn a tall, narrow bookcase on its side. There are also floating shelves, though I don't think they're very efficient, and I removed them from our new house and put a cabinet there (in the bathroom). There are some spaces where they may be useful. For more ideas, check out this webpage: Organization Basics: Shelves Home Made Simple

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Office design ideas (link)

Here are some ideas for making your home office practical and beautiful. You can make it as simple or ornate as you wish. Link:
Home Office Storage From Designers' Portfolio : Rooms : Home & Garden Television

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Home and garden ideas

There are some lovely backyard living and garden ideas in the June issue of Southern Living, including a pool house, a conservatory, and an English folly, along with articles on home design, Acadiana (southwest Louisiana) music, and entertaining.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fireplace design ideas (link)

Here are some beautiful fireplace designs, though I don't like the elevated gas fireplaces because I enjoy sitting on the floor in front of a fireplace. There are horizontal, linear fireplaces now too. And some beautiful surrounds, but even though I like glittery, shiny things, I think the sparkly surround detracts from the fire. And if you must stick your TV over the fireplace, you can use a remote-controlled piece of art to hide it. Check out these beautiful and trendy fireplace ideas here: 9 Fireplace Design Ideas From Candice Olson : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Patio ideas (link)

Here are some beautiful and practical ideas for making a patio. Stamped concrete is good. We bought beautiful stones for a patio once and used them because we had them, but before we put them down, we thought we didn't have to do this! The concrete slab looks good! But we used the rocks because they were there, and the patio had lovely rocks, but it was uneven and ants built homes in the spaces. Dressed rock or pavers would have been better. Link: Patio Ideas: Building Tips and Design Trends : Slideshow : HGTV Pro

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Buying our house: Report #17

Last week our friend Bob came over, and we spent most of the morning working on the sprinkler system. (You can only find some sprinklers when they pop up. The yards are full of sprinklers of all sorts.) Now we can water without worrying about wasting water and washing away passersby. Fixing and/or capping all those sprinkler heads has really made our life easier. Before we only used it when we got so far behind with watering all our new plants and trees that we worried about losing them.

After doing errands the other day, we got home to find the plumber's truck in the driveway,. He was here to do one of the two last remodelling projects, which was to replace the dryer vent hose. After he left, two guys came to measure the office window sash again 'cause it doesn't fit. We should get a new one in a week or two. Then we're all done with them, and we'll focus on landscaping and a few other things. The location and acreage (a lot less) is good, but the land is challenging; and we need to take pix of the bare strip where the new drain line is. That will help in the future when you need to know where the lines are. 'Course we've got so many irrigation lines. Between them and the tree roots, it's hard to plant...

I was expecting we would be bored on this little property--compared to our five acres at our old home. We're getting lots of hardscape at Lowe's and, of course, plants from everywhere, including the Farmer's Market. And we'll have to mark all the sprinkler heads before the sod is laid. We're planning to get one or two pallets of sod from our yard man. We're getting our mulch from him, and we're working on the second load he dumped in the corner of our driveway; he also hauled in and spread dirt for a number of big holes and ruts.

We've certainly upgraded the house--but we don't have stainless steel appliances, a gas range, and other things that we should have, according to some designers. We watched Bang for Your Buck on HGTV recently, in which several kitchens were remodelled--three for $90,000 each and three for $50,000 each. Then the kitchens and owners are critiqued--often for not being trendy or spending more money on higher end upgrades. Americans are encouraged to be wasteful!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Window treatments (link)

Here are the basics for deciding on your window treatments: Getting Started on Window Treatments : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Some good suggestions here, but I confess that our new house came with blinds in all the rooms except one, and I used curtains forom our old house for that room. Except for the kitchen window bliinds, all the blinds are vertical, and the dogs have a good time pushing through them.

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Regatta (May's color of the month)

This is a beautiful, deep shade of blue from Pantone. Check out how it's used in these rooms:

One description: "This color makes me think of desert skies, Caribbean water and delphinium blossoms. The shade suggests serenity in an age of tumult."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kitchen storage (link)

Here are three categories for choosing where to store your kichen dishes, pans, etc. I definitely need to put my French fryer and French bread pan in C because I'm not ready to give them up even though I haven't used them in months and years, respectively. And then there's Mom's old potato ricer... Link: The Rules of Kitchen Storage : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Buying our house: Report #16

Saturday, April 30, the painting crew came; they painted the front door, door frames, the new porch pillars, the kitchen ceiling, and the kitchen walls. We love the look of the new kitchen! And the next day, Sunday, the cleaners came. I was so glad that I didn't have to clean the insides of the cabinets! Since the cleaners were in the kitchen, our friends, Bob and Cheryl, brought us lunch from McDonalds. That was appreciated too.

No, we weren't quite done. Usually the painters and the cleaners are the last ones to finish up, but we still had a hole in the laundry room ceiling from when the dryer vent was changed from the attic to an outside wall, so the drywall crew had to come back and patch that on Tuesday, May 3; then the painter came back Thursday to paint that and decided that the kitchen walls needed another coat so he ordered more paint and had another painting crew take care of that. (We now have lots of Compatible Cream.) And after that Tim came back to finish adding the remaining cabinet pieces--a door and four skins.

But on Friday we knew that we were almost done because the building inspector came and approved the house, and then we gave the contractor, Mike Hickman, of Hickman Homes, the final payment. We're done!!

Well, almost completely done. Larry returned to rehang the kitchen blinds and put up our old spice cabinet. We shelved the spices, and that took care of the last box that needed to be unpacked! And, of course, we had to change the two AC filters again; they were clogged! (We have two zones.) Having the house to ourselves is so nice, though the plumber has to make a fix, and a window sash needs to be replaced. And we continue to landscape. But we have a beautiful home, and we appreciate everyone who contributed to that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Landscape ideas (link)

Here are some lovely landscapes with lots of plants, hardscape, and water features; and I like the idea of using large statues on pedestals to separate garden areas. Our yard could use more hardscape and plants to keep the water from flowing down the slopes and washing away the soil... Link: Landscaping Designs : Slideshow : HGTV Pro

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How organized are you? (quiz link)

I love these kinds of quizzes, although sometimes they don't have an answer that fits you. Link: HGTV Quiz: What's Your Organizational Personality?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Buying our house: Report #15

The countertops were installed Wednesday (Thanks, Rafael!) and the remaining kitchen appliances (stove, microwave, and dishwasher) and utility room sink, which the plumber had to track down Thursday AND we have water in the kitchen and utility room. We are so happy! We finally have a real kitchen. And I think most of the boxes are unpacked. We got the cabinet hardware Wednesday also.

Our new windows--entire house for a total of 24 windows--were installed Monday through Wednesday, and Larry, who has helped us with so much from the beginning when we moved in, removed and hung blinds back up as the window crew worked their way around the house. And when the crew left early (chance of rain, and they didn't want those huge gaping holes in the house in case it did), Larry covered the rooms on the south side of the house with his drop cloths and our sheets so we didn't have to slink through the house. (The house is very close to the road and sidewalk.)

Our friends, Bob and Cheryl, bought two paint samples from Sherwin Williams Wednesday, and Bob started painting the kitchen walls so we could make a color choice; then he went home and brought over two paint samples from his collection. The kitchen walls are covered with four different paint colors now. The colors are Jersey Cream, Compatible Cream, Blonde, and Sand 3. We think (lots of input from visitors) that we're going for Compatible Cream. (Hmm. Is it too dark?) No, that is it. The painter is coming Saturday, though there are a few more things that need to be finished. The dry wall crew didn't come today to patch one last hole left when the dryer hose was rerouted from the attic to an outside wall. And the remaining pieces of our cabinets (a door and four "skins") didn't come from the supplier.

Today (Friday), the plumber installed grab bars and a faucet in the bathrooms. Bob installed new fluorescent lights under the kitchen cabinets because the old lights didn't fit the new cabinets. Cabinets are apparently smaller these days, and the microwave sticks out, which surprised me, but a friend said that her daughter had to order their cabinets deeper so that wouldn't happen. No one told me that!

Tonight a new neighbor brought over a beautiful, big hydrangea plant (blue) as a housewarming gift. Wow! One of my favorite plants--and so impressive! I love our new house and the neighbors and our friends and my kitchen and... Thanks to everyone who has helped us!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Buying our house: Report #14

Well, we won't be having Easter dinner at our house. Fortunately we have a friend's house for backup. Our countertop and appliances won't be installed until next week.

Wednesday, April 20, the dry wall crew was here all day.; they were in the kitchen--and briefly in a bedroom to patch a hole in the ceiling where a light fixture had been--all day--from early to about 6. We had to drink warm water from the bathroom. (We have cold water in the fridge, but everything in the kitchen was covered with plastic.) And Blizzrd chewed up stuff in my bedroom 'cause she was in it so long, so I crated her after that.

AND that day we got an e-mail from the contractor's coordinator, who said that the granite slab had come in, but it didn't look like the sample we'd chosen, and Tim of Forestwood Design (the cabinet and countertop sub-contractor) wanted us to come choose another sample. (He e-mailed us a photo of the slab; it had rusty looking streaks in it; it wasn't at all what we'd wanted so I'm glad he queried us.) His store is far south, and we didn't have time and the house was full of guys till forever so we asked him to bring some samples. 'Course samples are big and heavy and there are lots to choose from, so he threw a few that he thought we might like (from our choices earlier) in his truck, and he and his son brought them over. When they got here, our friends, Bob and Cheryl had stopped by, and Bob caught a problem in the kitchen (hardware not removed from the windows). A guy had queried me about it, but I said I didn't know what to do about it and since the window guys would be working there, to let it go. Well, Bob went to the hardware store nearby (we didn't have what he needed), got a tool, used our chisel and hammer and climbed up and took them down so the dry wall guys could clean up that area. The kitchen looks a lot better now! It was rough from where the tiles were and full of holes on the walls and ceiling. Anyway, Cheryl joined us in choosing the granite. I wanted something light, but what we all agreed on was a darker sample that goes better with the cabinets. Cheryl said that of all the granite countertops she has--and she has lots!--she disliked the light ones the most 'cause they showed stains more. Good point.

We also had our own plumber replace an outside faucet and a shower head that day.

Thursday, the 21st, a carpenter put in a new threshold and ripped off the old door frame to do it. The old frame was tighter. (I can see sunlight when the garage door is open.) The drywall crew picked up all the stuff they left yesterday. And Tim came by and dropped off a new counter sample for the utility room. The one we chose isn't available. And we got a new schedule. The kitchen appliances will be delivered Friday and wait in the garage. The countertop won't come until Wednesday; the aplliances will be installed after that, along with some other stuff, and the painter comes the 30th when everyone else is done.

Quotes from friends:

You’re practically rebuilding the house! (G)

Did you get anything you chose? (M) I'd have to check.

Lots of trials, but you’ll manage and all this effort will be a dim memory. (G, who also supported me during the building of our last house.)